Daily Kickoff - 9.3.22 - Mukhtar
What you need to know

Five games today

Highlights include New York hosting Philadelphia at 7 pm ET on MLS LIVE on ESPN+ and Nashville welcoming Austin at 8:30 pm ET on MLS Live on ESPN+. Check out the full schedule here.

San Jose sign Peru defender Miguel Trauco

The San Jose Earthquakes have signed Peruvian international left back Miguel Trauco through the 2023 MLS season with an option for 2024. Trauco, 30, was a free agent after last playing with AS Saint-Étienne in France’s Ligue 1 alongside now-LAFC forward Denis Bouanga. He joined narrowly ahead of the MLS Roster Freeze Date on Sept. 2, the last day MLS teams can add players during the 2022 campaign.

Edwards departs New York Red Bulls, joins Barnsley

The New York Red Bulls have mutually agreed to terminate defender Tom Edwards’ loan from Championship side Stoke City. Edwards, 23, has since joined Barnsley in League One, the third division in his native England. the versatile Edwards spent nearly two years on loan with New York, tallying three assists in 47 games (44 starts).

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Good Morning Starshine, the Watchgridometer Says Hello

For those of y’all that are new, we like to do service journalism around here. Each weekend, we use the “Watchgridometer” to help guide you through the MLS weekend that awaits. By giving each game a watchability score using the Plusometer*, we can put each game in three tiers that range from “I would watch that” to “You absolutely have to watch that.” 

As we head down the stretch run, we’ve also added a “Playoffocity” score that measures how much impact the game will have on the playoff race and ohmygod we’ve added so much to what used to be a very simple thing over the last two years of The Daily Kickoff the new readers are going to think this is insane. 

Look: Tier One games good, Tier Three games great. That’s all you need to know. 

*The Plusometer is a scientific way to quantify the potential watchability of any given game on MLS LIVE on ESPN+, but can and will also be used for all other channels. Using the elements of "Potential for very good/entertainingly bad soccer," "Chances created," "NARRATIVE," "Aesthetics" and "Totally subjective bonus points," I assign each element a score out of 10 and each game a score out of 50. Twenty-five is average potential. Fifty is greatest game of all-time potential. Yes, I do actually calculate each game. No, I don't know why. Respect for the form, maybe?

TIER ONE: THE DELIGHTFUL HUM OF A SOCCER BROADCAST ON TELEVISION
Soccer is nice to have on. And sometimes you look up and see something fun.

Columbus Crew vs. Chicago Fire FC

  • WHEN: Sat., 5:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 21/50
  • Playoffocity: 27/50

Chicago are all but officially out of the playoffs. They’d love a chance to play spoiler though. A win against Cucho and sixth-place Columbus today could make things somehow even more interesting in the East.

D.C. United vs. Colorado Rapids

  • WHEN: Sun., 7:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 20/50
  • Playoffocity: 7/50

The Rapids technically aren’t eliminated and this is technically a soccer game. So. Still worth checking out.

Ok, maybe just keep an eye on the score?

Seattle Sounders FC vs. Houston Dynamo FC

  • WHEN: Sun., 9:00 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 25/50
  • Playoffocity: 22/50

Things have spiraled a bit for Houston in the second half, but they were able to clutter up the Supporters’ Shield race with a win over LAFC earlier this week. They would love to keep playing spoiler on Sunday and effectively end Seattle’s season. The Sounders have to win.

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San Jose Earthquakes vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

  • WHEN: Sun., 9:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; TSN 1/4 in Canada
  • Plusometer Score: 22/50
  • Playoffocity: 23/50

The Whitecaps are still alive, but like Seattle, it’s only barely. They have to take down San Jose in an MLS After Dark special that might get very, very weird very quickly.

TIER TWO: THE JOY OF STUMBLING ONTO A MATCH YOU PREVIOUSLY WEREN'T INVESTED IN BUT NOW ARE
Every now and then, you go into a game not asking for much and come away with more than you ever imagined.

Minnesota United FC vs. FC Dallas

  • WHEN: Sat., 3:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: Univision, TUDN, Twitter
  • Plusometer Score: 39/50
  • Playoffocity: 35/50

This one just missed out on being Tier Three and that’s probably unfair. But the system is the system. We have a bonafide playoff preview here though. The Loons and Dallas are separated by just one point in the standings and both are fighting to secure their spot above the line and play a playoff game or two at home. If the Dallas attack comes to play, then this could end up being a blast. At the very least, it’s a big road test for Jesus Ferreira and company, who still seem to be just a step below the top-tier teams in MLS.

New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union

  • WHEN: Sat., 7:00 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 40/50
  • Playoffocity: 20/50
  • The Daily Kickoff "That Train Scene In 'The Fugitive'" Game of the Week

The absolute purest version of Daily Kickoff Classic. Some folks may bristle at a game where the average pass completion percentage is somewhere around 48%. But you, dear reader, have a more cultured and refined taste. This is for those of us who recognize beauty where others do not. And if you cannot, maybe you’ll at least recognize we’re looking at two of the best teams in the East.

FC Cincinnati vs. Charlotte FC

  • WHEN: Sat., 7:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 30/50
  • Playoffocity: 33/50

Both of these teams still have a chance at finishing above the line. Cincy far more than Charlotte, but still. The Knifey Lions are just a point below the line, have a game in hand on seventh-place Inter Miami. It’s already worth your time to watch any game involving Lucho Acosta and Brandon Vazquez, but it’s especially worth it to watch them try and push Cincinnati to their first playoff appearance.

Portland Timbers vs. Atlanta United

  • WHEN: Sun., 5:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: FOX, FOX Deportes
  • Plusometer Score: 27/50
  • Playoffocity: 38/50
  • The Daily Kickoff National Game of the Week

The Timbers can deliver the final merciful blow to Atlanta’s season on Sunday. They need to if they want to keep pace with the Galaxy. The Timbers are a point above the line, but LA have two games in hand. Portland will need to take care of business against an Atlanta team that just doesn’t know how to find a way to win.

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Toronto FC vs. CF Montréal

  • WHEN: Sun., 7:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; TSN4, TVA Sports in Canada
  • Plusometer Score: 44/50
  • Playoffocity: 25/20
  • The Daily Kickoff "I don't know what's gonna happen but something's gonna happen" Game of the Week

A rivalry game where one team is fighting to keep playoff hopes alive and the other can snuff those playoff hopes out almost entirely. Plus, both teams happen to have talent all over the field. It should be one of the best-played games of the weekend and it should be fascinating to see how Wilfried Nancy tries to keep Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne in check.

LA Galaxy vs. Sporting Kansas City

  • WHEN: Sun., 8:00 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: UniMas, TUDN, Twitter
  • Plusometer Score: 31/50
  • Playoffocity: 29/50

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but SKC are playing good ball as of late. They have almost no chance of making the playoffs, but they’ve won three of their last four and should have won the fourth one. The Galaxy are going to have their hands full in a critical game.

TIER THREE: THE SATISFACTION OF EXPECTATIONS BEING MET
Sometimes you want the best and you get it.

Nashville SC vs. Austin FC

  • WHEN: Sat., 8:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 47/50
  • Playoffocity: 32/50
  • The Daily Kickoff MLS LIVE on ESPN+ Game of the Week

Does this game decide the Landon Donovan MLS MVP race? Hany Mukhtar takes on Sebastian Driussi in a massive game for Nashville and a not-quite-so-massive game for Austin. Don’t be surprised when either Mukhtar or Driussi decides the outcome of this one.

New England Revolution vs. New York City FC

  • WHEN: Sun., 8:00 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 38/50
  • Playoffocity: 38/50

NYCFC are struggling, to say it nicely, right now. After losing five of their last six, they’re in genuine danger of missing out on a home playoff spot. A loss for NYCFC would throw the door wide open for a team like Orlando to sneak into the fourth spot, and would give the Revs a huge boost in the playoff race. They’ve been ailing from injuries as of late, but they might be able to get Giacomo Vrioni and Dylan Borrero back on the field and contributing.

LAFC vs. Real Salt Lake

  • WHEN: Sun., 10:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 41/50
  • Playoffocity: 37/50

A playoff preview. It’s fated at this point. Poor LAFC.

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Good luck out there. Be multi-talented.